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You are here: Home / Publications / State and Federal Reports / Biennial Report to the 83rd Legislature / Agency Activities: Water Quality (FY2011-2012)

Agency Activities: Water Quality (FY2011-2012)

The following summarizes the agency’s activities regarding development of surface water quality and drinking water standards, water quality monitoring, assessing surface water data, restoring water quality, bay and estuary programs, utility services, and the Clean Rivers Program. (Part of Chapter 2—Biennial Report to the 83rd Legislature, FY2011-FY2012)

Developing Surface Water Quality Standards

 

Texas Surface Water Quality Standards

Under the federal Clean Water Act, every three years the TCEQ is required to review and, if appropriate, revise the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards. These standards are the basis for establishing discharge limits in wastewater permits, setting instream water quality goals for Total Maximum Daily Loads and providing criteria to assess instream attainment of water quality.

Water quality standards are set for major streams and rivers, reservoirs, and estuaries based on their specific uses: aquatic life, recreation, drinking water, fish consumption, and general. The standards establish water quality criteria, such as temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, salts, bacterial indicators for recreational suitability, and a number of toxic substances.

The commission adopted revised water quality standards and standards implementation procedures in fiscal 2010. Major revisions included:

  • Expanded categories for recreational uses and criteria, as well as more specific protocols to assign recreational uses.
  • Revisions to toxicity criteria to incorporate new data on toxicity effects and revisions to the basic requirements for toxicity effluent testing to address revised TCEQ and EPA procedures.
  • Addition of new numerical nutrient criteria to protect numerous reservoirs from the excessive growth of aquatic vegetation related to nutrients.
  • Numerous revisions and additions to the uses and criteria of individual water bodies to incorporate new data and the results of recent use-attainability analyses.

Revised standards must be approved by the EPA before being applied to Clean Water Act–related activities. The EPA acted on about half of the 2010 revisions in June 2011. Although portions of the 2010 standards had yet to finish federal review, the TCEQ proceeded with its triennial review of the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.

Use-Attainability Analyses

The Surface Water Quality Standards Program also coordinates and conducts use-attainability analyses (UAAs) to develop site-specific uses for aquatic life and recreation. A UAA is a scientific assessment of the physical, chemical, biological, or recreational characteristics of a water body. This assessment is often used to reevaluate designated or presumed uses when the existing standards might be inappropriate for water bodies that are listed as impaired or are potentially affected by permitted actions.

As a result of aquatic life UAAs, site-specific aquatic life uses or dissolved oxygen criteria were adopted in the 2010 water quality standards revision for more than 50 individual water bodies.

In 2009, the TCEQ developed recreational UAA procedures to evaluate and more accurately assign levels of protection for water recreation activities such as swimming and fishing. Since then, the TCEQ has initiated more than 100 recreational UAAs to evaluate recreational uses of water bodies that have not attained their existing criteria.

Using results from recreation UAAs, the TCEQ adopted site-specific contact recreation criteria for three individual water bodies in the 2010 Texas Surface Water Quality Standards revision. Additional site-specific contact-recreation criteria will be included in future revisions to the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.

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Clean Rivers Program

The Texas Clean Rivers Program is a unique state-fee-funded water quality monitoring, assessment, and public outreach program. Fifteen regional water agencies (primarily river authorities) perform monitoring, assessment, and outreach. The program affords the opportunity to approach water quality issues within a watershed or river basin at the local and regional level through coordinated efforts among diverse organizations.

Accomplishments include doubling the water quality data available for TCEQ decision making and increasing public awareness of water quality issues at the local level.

Water Quality Monitoring

Surface water quality is monitored across the state in relation to human-health concerns, ecological conditions, and designated uses. The resulting data forms a basis for policies that promote the protection and restoration of surface water in Texas.

Coordinated Routine Monitoring

Each spring, TCEQ staff meet with various water quality organizations to coordinate their monitoring efforts for the upcoming fiscal year. The TCEQ prepares the guidance and reference materials, and the Texas Clean Rivers Program partners assist with the local meetings. The available information is used by participants to select stations and parameters that will enhance the overall water quality monitoring coverage, eliminate duplication of effort, and address basin priorities.

The coordinated monitoring network, which is made up of about 1,800 active stations, is one of the most extensive in the country. Coordinating the monitoring among the various participants ensures that available resources are used as efficiently as possible.

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Continuous Water Quality Monitoring

The TCEQ has developed—and continues to refine—a network of continuous water quality monitoring sites on priority water bodies. The agency maintains 65 to 70 sites in its Continuous Water Quality Monitoring Network (CWQMN). At these sites, instruments measure basic water quality conditions every 15 minutes.

CWQMN monitoring data may be used by the TCEQ or other organizations to make water-resource management decisions, target field investigations, evaluate the effectiveness of water quality management programs such as TMDL implementation plans and watershed-protection plans, characterize existing conditions, and evaluate spatial and temporal trends. The data is posted at www.texaswaterdata.org.

The monitoring network is used daily to guide decisions on how to better protect certain segments of rivers or lakes, as seen by the following:

  • Pecos River. From 2006 to 2012, the TCEQ developed a network of nine CWQM sites from New Mexico to the Amistad Reservoir. The primary purpose of these sites is to monitor levels of dissolved salts and obtain information on the effectiveness of the Pecos River Watershed Protection Plan, which was implemented to protect the water supply in the Amistad Reservoir. The Pecos River CWQM sites are operated and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey through cooperative agreements with the TCEQ and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board. Other uses of this data includes development of water quality models.
  • Lower Rio Grande. Seven Lower Rio Grande CWQMN stations provide near real-time data to support Rio Grande watermaster decisions. This occurs by monitoring water quality impacts from agricultural return flows from multiple sources in Texas and Mexico. These sites help the watermaster anticipate and lessen these water quality impacts.

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Assessing Surface Water Data

Every even-numbered year, the TCEQ assesses water quality to determine which water bodies meet the surface water quality standards for their designated uses, such as contact recreation, support of aquatic life, or drinking water supply. Data associated with 200 different water quality parameters are reviewed to conduct the assessment. These parameters include physical and chemical constituents, as well as biological communities.

The assessment is published on the TCEQ website and submitted as a draft to the EPA as the Texas Integrated Report for Clean Water Act Sections 305(b) and 303(d).

The report evaluates conditions during the assessment period and identifies the status of the state’s surface waters in relation to the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards. Waters that do not regularly attain one or more of the standards may require action by the TCEQ and are placed on the 303(d) List of Impaired Water Bodies for Texas (part of the Integrated Report). The EPA must approve this list before implementation by the TCEQ’s water quality management programs.

Because of its large number of river miles, Texas can assess only a portion of its surface water bodies. The most important river segments and those considered at highest risk for pollution are assessed regularly. For the 2010 Integrated Report, water quality data was evaluated from 4,320 sites on 1,214 water bodies. The draft 2012 Integrated Report is expected to be submitted to the EPA in late 2012.

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Restoring Water Quality

 

Watershed Action Planning

Water quality planning programs in Texas have responded to the challenges of maintaining and improving water quality by developing new approaches to addressing water quality issues in the state. Watershed action planning is a process for coordinating, documenting, and tracking the actions necessary to protect and improve the quality of the state’s streams, lakes, and estuaries. The major objectives are:

  • To fully engage stakeholders in determining the most appropriate action to protect or restore water quality.
  • To improve access to state agencies’ management decisions in water quality and increase the transparency of that decision making.
  • To improve the accountability of state agencies assigned with protecting and improving water quality.

Leading the watershed action planning process are the TCEQ, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, and the Texas Clean Rivers Program partners. Key to the success of this process is involving all stakeholders, especially at the watershed level.

Total Maximum Daily Load

The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program is one of the agency’s primary means of improving the quality of impaired surface waters. This program works closely with the agency’s Wastewater Permitting and Nonpoint Source programs, as well as other governmental agencies and regional stakeholders, during the development of TMDLs and related implementation plans.

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There are a variety of ways the TCEQ can address water impairments. Selection of an appropriate approach is coordinated with stakeholders through the Watershed Action Planning process. Numbers are from the 2010 Texas Integrated Report.

Total projects: 713

A TMDL is like a budget for pollution—it estimates the amount of a pollutant that a water body can assimilate daily and meet water quality standards. The budget, or load, is divided among categories of sources of pollution in the watershed. A TMDL sets the target for reaching attainment. Fully restoring water quality is a long-term commitment of the stakeholders in the watershed. For many impaired water bodies, an implementation plan to reduce pollutant loads is developed by the stakeholders in the affected watershed.

Since 1998, the TCEQ has been developing TMDLs to improve the quality of impaired water bodies on the federal 303(d) List, which identifies surface waters that do not meet one or more quality standards. In all, the agency has adopted 206 TMDLs for 134 water bodies in the state.

As of August 2012, the TMDL Program had restored water quality to attain standards for 28 impairments to surface waters. Overall, the program restored fishing uses, conditions for aquatic life, and proper salinity to 353 stream miles; made water suitable as a source of drinking water for 19,310 reservoir acres; and restored conditions for aquatic life in 12 square miles of estuary.

From August 2010 to August 2012, the commission adopted eight TMDL reports (56 impairments) for the following projects in which bacteria had impaired contact-recreation use: Brays Bayou and tributaries, Carters Creek and Burton Creek and tributaries, Cottonwood Branch and Grapevine Creek and tributaries, and Dickinson Bayou and tributaries. Also, 10 water bodies in the eastern Houston area, Halls Bayou and tributaries, nine water bodies upstream of Lake Houston, Sims Bayou and tributaries, and the Upper Trinity River.

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Bacteria TMDLs

Bacteria from human and animal wastes can indicate the presence of disease-causing microorganisms that pose a threat to public health. People who swim or wade in waterways with high concentrations of bacteria have an increased risk of contracting gastrointestinal illnesses. High bacteria concentrations can also affect the safety of oyster harvesting and consumption.

Of the 621 impairments listed for surface water segments in Texas, about half are for bacterial impairments to recreational water uses.

In the last two years, 41 TMDLs for bacteria were completed, and 51 were under way or planned for fiscal 2013. A workable strategy has been developed for bacteria TMDLs that is simple and relies on the consensus of the stakeholders in the affected watersheds.

Other actions are also being taken to address bacteria impairments, such as recreational use–attainability analyses that ensure that the appropriate contact-recreation use is in place, as well as watershed-protection plans developed by stakeholders and primarily directed at nonpoint sources.

Implementation Plans

Implementation plans are developed by the stakeholders in watersheds affected by a TMDL. They describe the activities that stakeholders will conduct in the watershed to decrease pollutant loads. The plans also map out the schedule, the responsible party, needed technical and financial assistance, estimated load reductions, and milestones to measure progress. For simple pollutants that are distributed throughout the watershed, such as bacterial and dissolved oxygen, the TMDL and implementation plans are developed together. This efficiency shortens the length of time needed to complete the process.

Each plan contains a commitment by the stakeholders to meet annually and review progress. They can revise or renew the plan to continue the water quality improvement with the goal of meeting the water quality standards. Engaging stakeholders in the development of an implementation plan allows them to develop a strategy that can be accomplished with available resources.

The best example of engaging stakeholders is the Bacteria Implementation Group in the Houston area. The group consists of 31 members and alternates representing government, private industry, agricultural interests, conservation organizations, watershed groups, and the public. Stakeholders convened in 2009 to develop a single implementation plan for 72 bacterial impairments in the Houston area. The watersheds in the plan make up 2,200 square miles, including all or part of 10 counties and more than 55 municipalities. Public comments on the draft implementation plan were accepted from June 13 to July 30, 2012. The stakeholder group is expected to remain active throughout implementation of the plan.

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Nonpoint Source Program

The Nonpoint Source (NPS) Program administers the provisions of Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act to control urban and non-agricultural NPS pollution. Section 319 authorizes grant funding for states to develop projects and implement NPS management strategies.

The TCEQ, with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, manages the NPS grants to implement the goals identified in the Texas NPS Management Program. The management program must be approved by the TCEQ, the governor, and the EPA. The governor submitted an updated NPS Management Program to the EPA in June 2012, and approval was granted in August. The NPS Program annual report tracks the progress in meeting the long- and short-term goals of the management program.

The NPS Program annually applies for funding from the EPA. The award is split between the TCEQ to address urban NPS pollution and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board to address agricultural and silvicultural NPS pollution. The TCEQ receives $2 million to $3 million annually. Sixty percent of overall project costs are federally reimbursable; the remainder must be matched by the grantee. In fiscal 2012, $2.5 million was matched with $1.6 million, for a total of $4.1 million.

The TCEQ solicits applications to develop projects that contribute to the NPS Program management plan. Typically, 20 to 25 applications are received, reviewed, and ranked each year. Because the number of projects funded depends on the amount of each contract, the number fluctuates. Ten projects were selected in fiscal 2011; nine in fiscal 2012. Half of the federal funds awarded must be used for the development and implementation of watershed-protection plans and TMDL implementation plans.

The NPS Program also administers the provisions of Section 604(b) of the federal Clean Water Act. These funds are derived from State Revolving Fund appropriations under Title VI of the act. Using a legislatively mandated formula, money is passed through to councils of governments for planning purposes. In fiscal 2012, the program applied for about $680,000 in funding from the EPA.

Bay and Estuary Programs

The estuary programs are non-regulatory, community-based programs focused on conserving the sustainable use of bays and estuaries in the Houston-Galveston and Coastal Bend Bays regions through implementation of locally developed comprehensive conservation management plans. Plans for Galveston Bay and the Coastal Bend bays were established in the 1990s by a broad-based group of stakeholders and bay user groups. These plans strive to balance the economic and human needs of the regions.

The plans are implemented by two different organizations: the Galveston Bay Estuary Program (GBEP), which is a program of the TCEQ, and the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP), which is managed by a nonprofit authority established for that purpose. The TCEQ partially funds the CBBEP.

Additional coastal activities at the TCEQ include:

  • Participating in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership composed of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The TCEQ contributes staff time to implement the Governors’ Action Plan, focusing on several water quality concerns (pathogens, nutrients, and mercury, and improved comparability of data collection among the states), as well as education and outreach.
  • Participating on the Coastal Coordination Advisory Committee and implementing the state’s Coastal Management Program, both of which are led by the General Land Office.
  • Directing, along with the General Land Office and the Railroad Commission of Texas, the allocation of funds from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program.
  • Working with the General Land Office to gain full approval of the Coastal Nonpoint Source Program, which is required under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments.

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Galveston Bay Estuary Program

The GBEP provides ecosystem-based management that strives to balance economic and human needs with available natural resources in Galveston Bay and its watershed. Toward this goal, the program fosters cross-jurisdictional coordination among federal, state, and local agencies and groups, and cultivates diverse, public-private partnerships to implement projects and build public stewardship.

GBEP priorities include:

  • wetlands conservation
  • oyster-reef restoration
  • water conservation
  • stormwater quality improvement
  • public outreach and education

During fiscal 2011 and 2012, GBEP protected and restored 1,600 acres of coastal wetlands and other important habitats; worked to control the spread of invasive species in Galveston and Brazoria counties; assisted local governments in managing stormwater through water quality improvement projects; helped interested landowners maintain working farms while preserving long-term wildlife values on their property; and partnered with industry and local governments to initiate a regional education campaign.

Through collaborative partnerships established by the program, $7 in private, local, and federal contributions was leveraged for every $1 the program dedicated to these projects.

Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program

During fiscal 2011 and 2012, the CBBEP implemented 60 projects, including habitat restoration and protection in areas totaling 1,369 acres. Based in the Corpus Christi area, the CBBEP is a voluntary partnership working with industry, environmental groups, bay users, local governments, and resource managers to improve the health of the bay system. In addition to receiving program funds from local governments, private industry, the TCEQ, and the EPA, the CBBEP seeks funding from private grants and other governmental agencies. In the last two years, the CBBEP secured more than $7.7 million in additional funds to leverage TCEQ funding.

CBBEP priority issues focus on human uses, freshwater inflows, maritime commerce, habitat loss, water and sediment quality, and education and outreach. The CBBEP has become more active in water and sediment quality issues. The goal is to address 303(d) List segments so they meet state water quality standards.

Other areas of focus:

  • Restoration of a 180-acre emergent marsh complex in Nueces Bay to restore fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Environmental education of more than 7,000 students and teachers a year at the CBBEP Nueces Delta Preserve, which provides experiential activities.
  • Colonial-waterbird rookery island enhancement for which CBBEP biologists implement predator control, habitat management, and other actions to help stem the declining populations of nesting coastal birds.
  • The San Antonio Bay Partnership in which CBBEP assists local stakeholders to better characterize the San Antonio Bay system and develop plans to protect and restore wetlands and wildlife habitats.

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Drinking-Water Standards

For more than a decade, the EPA has been instituting major changes that require public water systems to remove disease-causing microorganisms from surface waters, reduce arsenic and radionuclides from groundwater aquifers, and enact stricter controls regarding the chemical by-products created when chlorine is used to disinfect water. These new standards have been integrated into TCEQ rules.

Of the 7,023 public water systems in Texas, about 4,700 are community water systems, mostly operated by cities. These systems serve about 96 percent of Texans. The rest are non-community water systems—such as those at schools, churches, factories, businesses, and state parks.

The TCEQ provides online data tools so the public can find information on the quality of locally produced drinking water. The Texas Drinking Water Watch provides analysis results from the compliance sampling of public water systems. In addition, the Source Water Assessment Viewer shows the location of the sources of drinking water. The viewer also allows the public to see any potential sources of contamination, such as an underground storage tank.

All public water systems are required to monitor the levels of contaminants present in treated water and to verify that each contaminant does not exceed its maximum contaminant level (MCL), action level (AL), or maximum residual disinfection level (MRDL). The MCL, AL, or MRDL is the highest level at which a contaminant is considered acceptable in drinking water for the protection of public health.

In all, the EPA has set standards for 102 contaminants in the major categories of microorganisms, disinfection by-products, disinfectants, organic and inorganic chemicals, and radionuclides. The most significant microorganism is coliform bacteria, particularly fecal coliform. The most common chemicals of concern in Texas are disinfection by-products, arsenic, fluoride, and nitrate.

More than 41,000 water samples are analyzed each year just for chemical compliance. Most of the chemical samples are collected by contractors, and then submitted to a certified laboratory. The analytical results are sent to the TCEQ and the public water systems.

Each year, the TCEQ holds a free symposium on public drinking water, which draws about 700 participants. The agency also provides technical assistance to public water systems to ensure that consumer confidence reports are developed correctly.

Any public system that fails to have its water tested or reports test results incorrectly faces a monitoring or reporting violation. When a public water system has significant or repeated violations of state regulations, the case is referred to the TCEQ’s enforcement program.

In May 2011, the TCEQ adopted EPA’s new approach for “enforcement targeting” under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The approach is designed to identify public water systems with violations that rise to the level of significant non-compliance by focusing on systems with health-based violations and those with a history of violations across multiple rules.

The TCEQ also enacted an enforcement response policy. This new system-based approach uses an enforcement targeting tool that prioritizes public water systems by assigning each violation a “weight,” or number of points, based on the assigned threat to public health. Points for each violation at a public water system are totaled to produce a score. For example, a violation stemming from an acute MCL carries more weight than a monitoring and reporting violation. This way, the TCEQ can target resources to address water systems having the highest priority problems.

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Utility Services

Public water systems are required to submit engineering plans and specifications for new water systems or for improvements to existing systems. The plans must be reviewed by the TCEQ before construction can begin. In fiscal 2011, the TCEQ completed compliance reviews of 1,735 engineering plans for public water systems. In fiscal 2012, the agency performed 1,734 such reviews.

Investor-owned utilities and water supply corporations are required to obtain certificates of convenience and necessity (CCNs) before providing service. A CCN is a TCEQ authorization that allows a retail public utility to furnish retail water or sewer utility service to a specified geographic area. Investor-owned utilities must also have an approved tariff that includes a rate schedule, service rules, an extension policy, and a drought contingency plan.

The TCEQ has original jurisdiction over the rates and services of investor-owned utilities, and has appellate jurisdiction over the rates of water-supply corporations, water districts, and out-of-city customers of municipally owned retail public utilities.

In fiscal 2011, the agency completed 137 CCN-related application reviews and 138 rate-related application reviews. In fiscal 2012, it completed 192 CCN-related application reviews and 160 rate-related application reviews.

The agency strives to ensure that all water and sewer utility systems have the capability to operate successfully. The TCEQ contracts with the Texas Rural Water Association to assist utilities by providing financial, managerial, and technical expertise. About 570 assignments for assistance to utilities were made through this contract in fiscal 2011, as were 549 in fiscal 2012.

In addition to contractor assistance, the TCEQ certifies utilities as regional providers. With this certification, utilities are eligible for tax-exempt status for utility-system construction and improvements. More than 350 utilities have been certified as regional providers.

The TCEQ also has jurisdiction over the creation of, and bond reviews for, water districts such as municipal utility districts, water control and improvement districts, and freshwater supply districts.

The agency reviews the creation of applications for general-law water districts and bond applications for water districts to fund water, sewer, and drainage projects. In fiscal 2011, the agency reviewed 226 major and 306 minor water-district applications. In fiscal 2012, it reviewed 200 major and 270 minor water district applications.

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Stormwater

The Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) was created in 1998 when the EPA transferred authority of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System for water quality permits in the state to Texas. This included stormwater permits.

As the permitting authority, the TCEQ has renewed the federal permits as they expired and developed new stormwater permits to conform to updated federal and state requirements. A permittee can obtain authorization for stormwater discharges through an individual or general permit.

The TCEQ receives thousands of applications a year for coverage under TPDES stormwater general permits. To handle the growing workload, the agency has incrementally introduced online applications for some of these permitting and reporting functions. The agency has also outsourced the management of incoming paper notices of intent (NOIs), notices of termination (NOTs), and no-exposure certifications (NECs).

Permits are issued under the categories of industrial, construction, and municipal.

Industry

The multi-sector general permit regulates stormwater discharges from industrial facilities. The permit groups similar industrial activities into sectors, with requirements specific to each of 29 sectors.

Facilities must develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan, conduct regular monitoring, and use best management practices to reduce the discharge of pollutants in stormwater. The permit also contains limitations for certain discharges—specific pollutants and concentrations that cannot be exceeded. The TCEQ receives about 150 NOIs, NECs, and NOTs a month for industrial facilities. This general permit was renewed and amended in August 2011.

Construction

The construction general permit was developed for stormwater runoff associated with construction activities, which includes clearing, grading, or excavating land at building projects such as homes, schools, roads, and businesses. The size of a construction project determines the level of regulation. Construction disturbing five or more acres is labeled a “large” activity, while construction disturbing one to five acres is termed “small.”

Smaller projects are also regulated if they are a part of a larger common plan of development or sale more than one acre in size. Construction operators at large sites are required to apply for coverage under the general permit by filing an NOI. Operators at small sites must meet permit requirements, but are not required to submit an NOI. The TCEQ receives about 400 NOIs and 300 NOTs a month for large construction activities. This general permit was reissued in February 2008; it will expire in 2013.

Stormwater Permits

No. Affected
(Issued)
Applications Received
(mo. ave.)
Applications Received (total)
FY 2011
FY 2012
FY 2011
FY 2012
FY 2011
FY 2012
Industrial
(facilities)
2,180
9,800
189
817
2,272
9,802
Construction
(large sites)
5,407
5,858
460
504
5,515
6,042
MS4s
(public entities)
22
9
2
1
21
3

Municipal

The TCEQ also regulates discharges from municipal separate storm-sewer systems, or MS4s. This category applies to a citywide system of ditches, curbs, gutters, and storm sewers that collect runoff. It also includes other publicly owned systems, such as controls for drainage from state roadways.

The TCEQ is responsible for renewing previously issued individual federal permits for discharges from medium and large MS4s. These systems are operated by cities and other public authorities, such as the Texas Department of Transportation, in areas in which the 1990 census showed a count of 100,000 people or more. Thirty-three municipalities and other public authorities fall into this category. The TCEQ has issued 26 individual MS4 permits to medium and large MS4s. Some of these entities are permitted together under one permit.

In 2007, the TCEQ issued a general permit regulating small MS4s (populations under 100,000 in 1990) in urbanized areas. This permit requires a regulated MS4 operator to develop and implement a stormwater-management program that includes minimum plan requirements for public education and participation, as well as minimum control measures for illicit-discharge detection and elimination, control of construction stormwater runoff, post-construction stormwater management, and pollution prevention and good housekeeping. About 500 small cities, districts, and other public authorities have submitted NOIs for authorization or waivers under this general permit. The permit was in the process of being renewed in 2012.

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